More Cities Come Under Metro Rail Network


Amazon and Flipkart are outdoing each other, but last quarter was a downer for both the e-commerce giants. On GST, governemnt collected the lowest tax last month ever since the new tax regime was launched in July. A report said, more people are dying prematurely due to air pollution in India and this can get worse in coming decades. Delhi metro has done a ton of good in encouraging other cities to come under the metro rail network. And in cricket, Ashwin reached a milestone on Monday, as India routed Sri Lanka in the second test at Nagpur.



What is it? The respective scores of Flipkart and Amazon India in the July-September period, according to the latest RedSeer E-tailing Leadership Index.

Why is it important? Scores of both companies have declined from 95 in the previous quarter. Identical scores of India’s top two e-commerce firms in two consecutive quarters indicates intense competition with no clear winner. While RedSeer did not give any reason for the decline in their scores, the previous quarter saw the flagship festive sales of both Flipkart and Amazon, and the higher volume of orders could have affected customer satisfaction levels.

Tell me more: Flipkart has emerged as the most trusted brand in e-commerce in India, while Amazon tops in customer experience.


Rs 83,346 crore

What is it? Collections under GST (goods and services tax) for October up to Monday (November 27).

Why is it important? This is the lowest since July, the first month when GST was implemented in the country. The government attributed the lower tax collections to, among other reasons, lower tax incidence on most goods. In a report on Monday, India Ratings said the government’s disinvestment drive and encouraging GST collections would help “reduce pressure on fiscal arithmetic”. The government has used up 96.1% of its full-year fiscal deficit target in the first five months of 2017-18. It has set a fiscal deficit target of 3.2% of gross domestic product for the current fiscal.

Tell me more: The GST collections in July, August and September were Rs 92,283 crore, Rs 90,669 crore and Rs 92,150 crore respectively.



What is it? The percentage of premature deaths in India caused by air pollution alone, according to a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE).

Why is it important? It highlights the urgent need for a multi-pronged approach to lower air pollution levels across the country. The report says every third child in Delhi, which is among the world’s most polluted cities, has impaired lungs. Not only are Indian cities witnessing higher pollution levels but 41 tier-II cities exceed the ambient air quality standard. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has said air pollution could cause 6-9 million deaths by 2060, with the biggest increases in mortality rates in India and China, among others.

Tell me more: The CSE report also said 61% of all premature deaths in the country can be attributed to lifestyle or non-communicable diseases.



What is it?  The number of Indian cities that will have a metro rail service following the inauguration of the Hyderabad Metro on Tuesday. The other eight cities are Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Gurugram, Jaipur, Kochi, Kolkata and Mumbai.

Why is it important? India has been late to embracing metro rail as a means of public transport, and it’s only in the last decade, following the success of the Delhi Metro, that cities have taken to it. Another two dozen projects are at various stages of completion or lined up with the ministry of urban development.

Tell me more: China has been extremely aggressive in making the metro rail a mainstay of its public transport system. In the global list of top 10 cities with the longest metro rail network, four are from China; Delhi is at number 11.



What is it?  The number of test matches that Indian off spinner Ravichandran Ashwin took to reach 300 test wickets. Ashwin reached this milestone on Monday, as India routed Sri Lanka in the second test at Nagpur.

Why is it important? Among the 30 bowlers who have scalped 300 test wickets, Ashwin is the quickest to this milestone in number of tests. He bettered the record of Australian fast bowler Dennis Lillee, of 56 matches.

Tell me more: Ashwin is the fifth Indian to reach 300 test wickets. Also, he is only the third blower to return at least 50 test wickets in three consecutive calendar years, the others being Shane Warne (1995-97) and Muttiah Muralitharan (2000-02).

Read More

Untitled design-3

A Two-Horse Race In Himachal


It’s a two horse race in the Himachal Pradesh assembly elections. Delhi government is considering re-instating the odd-even scheme. Mary Kom clinched her fifth gold in the recently concluded Asian Women’s Boxing Championship. India is likely on track to achieve its targets for green house gas emissions.



What is it? The number of candidates in the fray in the 68-seat Himachal Pradesh assembly, the elections for which are being held today. Both the BJP and Congress are contesting from every constituency.

Why is it important? Himachal has been a two-horse race, with the BJP and the Congress taking turns to lead it. For the BJP, Himachal matters as another addition to its state count, an objective it has pursued with intent since returning to power at the Centre in 2014. For the ruling Congress, it needs to stop BJP’s expanding footprint.

Tell me more: Of the 68 candidates each fielded by the two national parties, 59 Congress candidates and 47 BJP candidates have declared assets above Rs 1 crore. The results will be declared on December 18.



What is it? If the Delhi government today decides to enforce the odd-even scheme for vehicular movement in the capital—number plates ending with odd and even digits on alternate days—this will be the third time in two years.

Why is it important? Air pollution levels in the National Capital Region continued to remain in the “severe plus” category, with readings yesterday even rising to 10 times that of Beijing, another city infamous for bad air.

Tell me more: As of March 31, 2016, there were 9.7 million vehicles registered in Delhi. Of this, 6.1 million were motorcycles and scooters, and 3 million were cars and jeeps.



What is it? The number of gold medals Indian boxer Mary Kom has won at the Asian Women’s Boxing Championship, the latest being on Wednesday.

Why is it important? This is her maiden gold in the 48 kg category of the tournament. Also, this is Kom’s first international gold medal in the last three years (since the 2014 Asian Games) and her first medal in over a year. In all, she has clinched five golds and a silver in all editions of the championship.

Tell me more: The 35-year-old pugilist shifted to the 48 kg category, which she says suits her better than the 51 kg from which she made a switch last year after five years of competing in that category.



What is it? The amount the United States government has announced it will grant to organisations for ideas and projects to promote religious freedom in India and Sri Lanka.

Why is it important? The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has changed its stance on religious freedom in India: from ‘no large-scale incidents’ in 2008 to it being on ‘a negative trajectory’ in 2015. In 2009, the USCIRF had put India on its ‘watch list’ with respect to this issue. India, which believes that no foreign entity has the locus standi to pass comments and judgment on the constitutionally protected rights of Indians, has denied visas to USCIRF’s members for seven straight years, as reported last year.

Tell me more: Indian applicants to this US grant are expected to submit proposals that develop and implement early-warning systems to quell large-scale violence, implement conflict-management systems between majority and minority groups, and counter hateful messages with positive ones using all forms of media.



What is it? The number of countries (of 25 emitting countries/regions), including India, that are likely or roughly on track to achieve their self-determined unconditional 2025/2030 targets for greenhouse gas emissions with currently implemented policies, according to a new report.

Why is it important? The report projects that India is likely to overachieve its 2020 pledge of reducing emissions per unit of GDP (gross domestic product) by 20-25% over 2005 levels. However, it adds, no definitive conclusions can be made as this is dependent on future economic growth. The projections made by India in its Draft Electricity Plan of 2016 for stabilisation of coal capacity at 250 GW in the next decade and the expansion of renewable energy to 275 GW by 2026/27, if implemented, would “have a substantial impact on emissions”.

Tell me more: The other nations/regions that are expected to achieve their targets in the next three years are Brazil, China, Colombia, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Turkey and Ukraine.


Read More

Untitled design

Clash Of The Titans: Sindhu Vs Saina


Delhi is caught in the haze, yet again. Tax base has widened as more e-returns were filed this year until October, versus the same period last year. Air passengers have piled up complaints against IndiGo, but that number is still lowest amongst the airlines. In clash of the badminton titans, its PV Sindhu vs Saina Nehwal this time.



What is it? The air quality index pertaining to PM 2.5 (fine solid and liquid hazardous particles suspended in air) at RK Puram, a locality in Delhi, at 10 pm on Tuesday, according to the US Embassy.

Why is it important? This falls in the ‘hazardous’ category, the worst among six. By comparison, a score between 0 and 50 qualifies as ‘good’ while 51-100 translates to ‘moderate’. The Indian Medical Association said the national capital was witnessing a public health emergency and warned people against stepping out. The National Green Tribunal pulled up the governments of Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, and asked them why steps were not taken to prevent deterioration in air quality.

Tell me more: The Environment Pollution Control Authority has recommended the following measures: parking fees in Delhi-NCR region be quadrupled, Delhi Metro reduce fares during off-peak hours for at least 10 days and introduce more coaches, road construction agencies violating pollution norms be fined Rs 50,000, and the Delhi government start preparing for measures such as the odd-even scheme and ban on construction activities.



What is it? The increase in e-returns filed until October in 2017-18 (37.8 million), up from 32.2 million filed in the corresponding period in 2016-17.

Why is it important? Today marks a year since the shock announcement of withdrawal of high-value currency notes, which the government defended as part of its efforts against black money and corruption. The increase in e-returns is one of the data points released by the government to demonstrate impact. Other data points include a widening of the tax base, amount deposited and withdrawn by companies, and striking off of firms from the Registrar of Companies and disqualification of directors.

Tell me more: The number of individual e-filers (who use form ITR-1) increased by 23.3% to 20.8 million between April-October this year, from 16.9 million.



What is it? The percentage of passengers per 10,000 who filed complaints against IndiGo in September, according to the airline regulator. Among major domestic airlines, this is the lowest.

Why is it important? Yesterday, India’s largest airline came under flak when an IndiGo staffer was seen manhandling a passenger. IndiGo has since suspended the staffer and its CEO Aditya Ghosh has tendered an apology. Earlier in the week, Indian badminton player PV Sindhu had accused the airline’s staff of rude behaviour, which the airline contested.

Tell me more: Among domestic airlines, Air India had the highest complaint rate (1.6% per 10,000 passengers carried), followed by Jet Airways and JetLite (1.3%).


$1.5 billion

What is it? The loss posted by Denmark’s AP Moller Maersk in the July-September quarter, against a profit of $429 million in the corresponding year-ago period, despite an increase in revenues from $7 billion to $8 billion.

Why is it important? The world’s largest shipping company, also an oil producer, has partly attributed this loss to the cost of a cyber-attack in June—of $250-300 million—that primarily affected its shipping unit. This makes a persuasive case for businesses to bolster their IT systems to thwart cyber-attacks.

Tell me more: According to a recent report by Lloyd’s of London, a major, global cyber-attack could cause economic losses to the tune of $53 billion, which would be equivalent to the losses due to a catastrophic natural disaster such as the US super-storm Sandy in 2012.



What is it? The head-to-head record between Indian badminton players PV Sindhu and Saina Nehwal in the international sphere.

Why is it important? The two women, who put India on the world badminton map, yesterday reached the finals of the Senior Badminton National Championship. This summit clash will be a rare encounter between the two who are referred to in a similar vein but whose tenures at the very top have coincided little.

Tell me more: Nehwal won her first international encounter in January 2014, while Sindhu won in March 2017. Saina is 27, while Sindhu is 22.


Read More

News in Numbers, Feb 15, 2017: Jailbird

3 years, 6 months

What is it? The time left in AIADMK General Secretary V K Sasikala’s sentence in the disproportionate assets case.

Why is it important? She was convicted by the Supreme Court yesterday, which upheld the trial court verdict and punishment over a later Madras High Court judgement. As Sasikala has to surrender soon to serve the remaining sentence, the knot over the state’s leadership may finally unravel with MLAs expected to return to the floor to cast their votes.


Tell me more: Sasikala and her two relatives will have to pay a fine of Rs 10 crore each, and she won’t be able contest elections for six more years after she returns from jail (having served for four years).


2.2 million

What is it? Number of people in India and China who died prematurely from long-term exposure to the potent air pollutant particulate matter, PM 2.5, in 2015.

Why is it important? The death count equals 52% of PM 2.5’s toll on the world in 2015. The annual average PM 2.5 level of 58 µg/m3 in China and 74 µg/m3 are extreme concentrations of the pollutant, when 50% of the global population is exposed to 35 µg/m3.

Tell me more: India also saw an increase of 67%, above the global average of 60%, in ozone-attributable deaths.



What is it? Those who got sick from Ebola and infected 61% of the total stricken by the virus, called superspreaders.

Why is it important? The small count of superspreaders infecting scores of others, points to how transmission of the deadly Ebola virus could have been controlled. The West African epidemic which began in 2014, quickly got out of control, to claim over 11,300 lives and over 28,000 confirmed cases of infection. Africa’s communal burial rituals led to greater contact of healthy individuals with Ebola’s most dangerous carriers — dead bodies or the dying. Keeping these superspreaders away from others could have prevented two-thirds of the cases.


Tell me more: It was found once admitted, patients in hospitals and care centres did not transmit the virus.


Rs 111.57 crore

What is it? Tata Motor’s net profit in quarter ended 31, December 2016.

Why is it important? That’s down 96% from Rs 2,953 crore during the same quarter last year. While analysts anticipated a hit in profits, it was worse than expected. Commercial vehicles sales were down, and the margins of its UK subsidiary Jaguar Land Rover, a money spinnerfor Tata Motors, fell sharply.

Tell me more: Tata Motors sales dropped 2.2% to Rs 67,864.95 crore in the October-December quarter from Rs 69,398 crore during the same period last year.


Rs 136 crore

What is it? India’s investment in a second Hindustan Aeronautics production line to manufacture Tejas, indigenously developed light combat aircraft

Why is it important? Indian airforce is mostly dependent on import of foreign aircraft, and the additional production line will help HAL supply 16 LACs. It will replace Russian made  MiG-21 planes.

Tell me more: After a delay of over 33 years post approval, Tejas entered service last year. HAL has supplied only three of them so far, due to production constraints.

Read More